Friday, September 3, 2010

No Need for Panic, Business as Usual: 23andMe's Personal Genome Service Subscription

I posted yesterday about 23andMe's new Personal Genome Service subscription plan. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation about this new service and many existing customers are concerned about the potential of having to pay for continuing access to their results and new matches. As I pointed out before, the subscription is NOT required for the Ancestry Edition, which leads me to believe that it has nothing to do with access to future matches and Ancestry services.

Here are my thoughts as a marketing professional (they are my opinion only without any further input from 23andMe):

I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am confident that existing customers will not be charged to see their results in the future. I think this move would earn 23andMe so much bad press and ill will that it would ruin them. I trust they will not alienate their existing, loyal customer base. This is an innovative company with a goal to grant each individual access to their personal genome. Just like Google's mission is to "democratize information,"  23andMe's mission is to make genetic information available to the masses. To continue to make this fiscally possible, they must be profitable. They are simply testing marketing strategies in line with those goals. This is a proactive and, possibly, necessary marketing move. Lower upfront prices will result in more customers. Think of the "subscription" as a payment plan. When we at StudioINTV run the direct response ads that we produce, we test many different price points and payment plans. Continuity is a proven money maker and a necessity for success in some campaigns. I really believe 23andMe is just testing the waters and trying to determine what "plan" results in the most customers. Not everyone has $500 upfront and that big ticket price sometime scares away even those who do.

Business as usual, ladies and gentleman. no need for panic.

***Update: A reader has shared this email with me:

Thank you for contacting us.  We're happy to clarify for you.

--- 23andMe would like to make our service accessible to as many people as possible.  To that end, we are currently exploring the viability of a lower entry point.  This pricing will be available for a limited time.
--- Existing customers are not impacted at all.  You will continue to receive all updates at no additional cost.
(emphasis mine)
--- Multi-kit discounts do not apply to the subscription edition of the service.  The multi-kit discounts will still apply to Ancestry Edition (at $229), the Health Edition (at $429) and the Complete Edition (at $499).  The discount is $25 off per kit for Ancestry or Health when you purchase two or more and $50 off per kit for Complete when you purchase two or more.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Best Regards,
The 23andMe Team


  1. Hi Cece - thanks for the marketing insight, and nice that you were proved correct so quickly!

    I think that they are also looking towards the day when they will no longer do genotyping, or at least when a large number of potential customers will have been genotyped (or completely sequenced) elsewhere. Decode toyed with this late last year, offering their interpretation services to 23andMe customers - it was a test and free at the time (and not without some data mixup problems!).

  2. Thanks for commenting, Keith. It's nice to be right every once in awhile! ;-)
    Good to have your very interesting insight and perspective too. I hadn't thought that far ahead.
    I did transfer my results to Decode in January, but haven't taken advantage of the information/services there as much as I could have. It would be nice to see them do something like that again for the many newer DTC customers. We haven't heard much from them lately.